New Ducati signing Andrea Dovizioso reduced the gap to the top of the MotoGP timesheets from 2.177s, after a tough debut test at Sepang, to 1.221s at the start of this week's Malaysian return.
Lap times were slower than at the first test - and afternoon rain brought an early end to the Tuesday action - but Dovizioso felt progress had been made technically and in terms of his own riding style.
“I'm pretty satisfied,” he said. “From the beginning, with the bike the same as when we finished the first test, I had a little bit better feeling just because of more time on the bike.”
The former Honda and Yamaha rider then tried some weight distribution changes.
“We had something to try. Nothing special because we don't have time to make something big between these tests. But we compared two bikes with different fuel tanks - different weight distribution,” he explained. “This worked and that was a good feeling.”
Despite the slower pace and early end, Dovizioso felt the 1.2s margin to former Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa was a fair figure.
“The condition of the track was slower than last time, but it is the same for everybody, so I think the gap is realistic,” he said. “Also I used just one set of tyres and to do that lap time at the end [lap 16 of 22], after the tyre had dropped. I am quite happy.”
But Dovizioso is under no illusions as to the work still ahead, especially after getting the chance to follow Pedrosa's RC213V.
“Still the gap is quite big. I made two laps behind Dani and it is always interesting to follow a faster rider to get the right feedback. The main problem is the turning,” he said.
“The bike wants to go straight, so when you want to turn you have to pull and you put the tyre and bike over the limit. Then on the exit you also have many problems, but this is a consequence of the bike not wanting to turn.”
Dovizioso's pace was good enough for eighth place, one position and 0.342s ahead of team-mate Nicky Hayden.